Subtractive Manufacturing


Subtractive manufacturing can be performed manually by a machinist. More commonly it’s a highly complex process used by a CNC machine.

It is a decades-old practice with a demonstrated history of effectiveness in the prototyping process and manufacturing products. The goal for your project will determine if it is the correct process for your needs. 

 Subtractive manufacturing is like the process an artist uses to create a sculpture. The machinist or CNC programmer, like the artist, uses specialized tools to carve metal materials into the desired shape.   

The different techniques used by the craftsman or artist create the specific details requested by the client.

If you want to understand subtractive manufacturing further and whether it aligns with your needs, consider Glenn Metalcraft Inc. They are an industry leader with a customer service focus.

What is subtractive manufacturing?

CNC machine cutting example of subtractive manufacturing

Subtractive manufacturing is aptly named since it involves removing or subtracting materials to produce the end product. One method of implementing subtractive manufacturing utilizes a computer numerically controlled or CNC machine

The process begins with a rough slab or bar of material. Then, a machinist removes the excess until it reaches the final shape of the prototype or product being manufactured. You can imagine it like a sculpture. Your piece begins as a rough block but takes on a more complex shape through detailed carving. 

Subtractive manufacturing can be further broken down by the machines and manufacturing technologies used. 

Conventional machining uses three-axis cutting tools so that the block does not need to be manually flipped or turned. Conventional lathes, milling machines, and drill presses produce basic geometric designs.

Unconventional machining is ideal for working with brittle materials or producing more intricate and complex shapes. It uses a variety of processes to remove excess materials. This method can use a combination of mechanical, electric, thermal, or chemical methods to fashion the block into the desired shape.

What is the difference between additive and subtractive manufacturing?

CNC machine drilling example of subtractive manufacturing

The difference between additive and subtractive manufacturing is stated within their names. One method adds material; the other method subtracts material. 

Additive manufacturing involves adding material to create the desired part. Adding layers to the workpiece forms the designated object. 

Like a CNC machine, a 3D printer is programmed to create a 3d printed piece. The printer then builds up the shape from raw materials. Specific industries that utilize additive manufacturing include the medical and dental device industries. 

Subtractive manufacturing involves removing material from solid blocks to fashion the desired shape. Manufacturers can use it with many different metals, such as aluminum and brass. A machinist or CNC machine system will remove metal using drilling, milling, or turning. The process will clear away segment by segment until the result is your product or prototype. 

However, the two processes are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, many manufacturers use both together to take advantage of each process’s unique advantages.

Advantages of subtractive manufacturing

CNC Machine Turning as an example of subtractive manufacturing

There are many advantages of subtractive manufacturing, so it has remained a popular production method after decades of use. 

Subtractive manufacturing usually results in much smoother surface finishes than the “stepped” surface, which results from using an additive manufacturing process. 

Why does the type of finish matter? If your product needs to slide, you will want the smooth finish that subtractive manufacturing provides. 

The texture matters if you use your prototype in your sales and marketing process. Your customers will be more likely to believe that your product is the right fit if it has the right feel. 

Computer numerically controlled systems are commonly utilized in the subtractive manufacturing process. First, the CNC software reads the design provided and instructs the CNC machine on creating the product. It then prescribes how to cut, drill, and channel your components. 

This level of automation means that larger-scale production can be handled with greater ease and less human involvement. 

The tools used in subtractive manufacturing are exact and can create intricate or tight geometric designs. These types of complex shapes may be otherwise difficult to mold or cast.

Subtractive manufacturing techniques

CNC Machine Abrading example of subtractive manufacturing

Many subtractive manufacturing techniques are used. However, the main approaches can be divided into three broad categories. Those are: 

  • Cutting, 
  • Machining, and
  • Abrading.

Cutting involves using saws, blades, or other such tools to remove excess material. 

Machining is when tools move around or across the raw material to shape it. CNC machining involves turning, milling, or drilling the item. 

Finally, abrading is when the raw material is sanded down or polished using an abrasive substance. 

The type of process used is dependent on the type of material used.  A manufacturer needs a deep knowledge of metals to apply those processes to create the right design effectively. 

Subtractive manufacturing examples

CNC machine being programmed by a manManufacturers can apply subtractive manufacturing in various industries, including medical, dental, automotive, aerospace, and agriculture.

From gears in an airplane engine to garden tools, subtractive manufacturing can produce many products. This manufacturing technique can even make jewelry! Glenn Metalcraft Inc. uses its decades of industry experience to create items that might otherwise seem impossible!

Subtractive manufacturing has earned its place as an effective fabrication process in most machine shops. Its long history has improved by adding automation and software to allow many additional applications. Moreover, its unique properties mean it can create tight geometric shapes with a smooth and polished finish. 

Hybrid Manufacturing, the Future of Subtractive Manufacturing

For a long time, subtractive manufacturing has been the go-to for detail and finish work because it’s simply the best method. But today, additive manufacturing gives us new shapes and structures possibilities.

The best of both worlds – additive and subtractive techniques combined on the same machine. This is what we call hybrid manufacturing. With this method, you can create a new part from scratch with 3D printing and then use CNC methods to finish it. 

With this technology, you can switch between methods as you please. For instance, start by 3D printing a layer of material, then use subtractive machining on it, and add another layer afterward. 

Why Glenn Metalcrafts Inc.?

Glenn Metalcrafts Inc. specializes in assisting the OEM industry in creating prototypes and manufacturing the products that build your success. Our company brings to the table decades of experience, advanced equipment, and the advice of metal industry experts. We manufacture products others would not even consider. 

Glenn Metalcrafts Inc. builds solid relationships and grows alongside its customers. It is selective in its clientele to achieve the right fit. Reach out today to find out how Glenn Metalcrafts Inc. can make your manufacturing idea a reality.


Laser Cutting

Laser Cutting Metals vs. Plasma Cutting Metals

Laser cutting and plasma cutting machines can save you time and money. Both share similar qualities, but there are unique features that differentiate the two. Before choosing which machine best fits your needs, you should understand the ins and outs of each. We hope to help you find the right fit.

Our relationships with customers are just as solid as the metals we work with, forged on quality service for the highest quality parts. Glenn Metalcraft is an extension of each customer. We want to grow in the right direction, so we are careful about the type of work we accept and strive to achieve a good fit above all else.

Have you ever harnessed sunlight to create a laser beam?

If you have ever used a magnifying glass to direct sunlight into a concentrated beam, you created a laser! Channeling direct sunlight through a lens produces a focused column of light. This column is also known as a laser beam.

When you think of lasers, you might be reminded of sci-fi movies or laser light shows. The lasers you envision are similar to those that laser cutting machines use. A concentrated beam is directed through the machine and onto the material you desire to cut. This beam is controlled by a complex network of parts, all controlled by a computer.

The computer controls the machine and directs the laser beam with fantastic accuracy. Laser cutting metals is a process well known for clean cuts and tight tolerances.


Plasma cutting machines work differently.

Plasma cutting machines create a stream of electricity flowing through gas and force it through a small orifice using compressed air. That stream jumps from an electrode in the nozzle to the conductive material being cut. It is why plasma cutting is limited to only conductive materials.

Plasma cutting machines offer powerful cutting capabilities but provide less accuracy than laser cutting machines. Unlike laser cutting machines, many plasma cutting machines are handheld. They are an affordable and effective way to cut through metal sheeting easily.


Differences in precision: Laser vs. Plasma cutting metals

As you might imagine, laser cutting is the more precise option. 

A laser can cut a metal sheet with extreme accuracy because the cut width is so thin. Most lasers are only one-thousandths of an inch thick. This thin cut width results in an ideal cut.

Plasma cutting machines are mighty but do not meet the same level of accuracy as lasers. The propelled spray that plasma cutting machines send out to cut through materials is one-hundredths of an inch thick. This is close to ten times less accurate than laser cutting.

Cut quality comparison: Laser cut metals vs. plasma cut metals

Plasma cutting requires more “clean up” time.

Plasma cutting often leave jagged edges and imperfections on parts. This means that you may revisit the piece after cutting to clean up the cut edges.

When watching a laser cutting machine and a plasma cutting machine go head-to-head, the differences in cut quality and speed are apparent. 

Material restrictions for laser cutting machines:

Laser cutting machines create crisp edges, but they’re picky eaters.

Unlike plasma, laser cutting machines can only work with materials generally less than ½” thick. Any larger and you may need a very big, extremely specialized laser. Laser cutting metals are limited to clean, rust-free, non-mirrored metal materials.

Laser cutting machines cut a variety of metal materials. 

These range from typical cardstock paper to thick acrylic boards. When considering how well it can cut metals, the ideal thickness is ¼” steel or aluminum sheeting. The cardinal rule is that these surfaces need to be unblemished and unpainted for the laser cutter to work correctly.

Material restrictions for plasma cutting machines:

Plasma cutting machines require a conductive material to get the job done.

The favorites of these machines are steel and aluminum. One perk to plasma cutting is that they do not require clean cuts of the material and will work appropriately, trimming through rust and blemishes on the surface.

Thicker materials that require simple cuts are ideal candidates for the plasma cutting machine. Plasma cutting is possible at thicknesses up to 6 inches. The maximum thickness possible for each plasma cutter varies the machine’s power and setup. Plasma cutters can be handheld or table-mounted systems.

Here to address your questions about laser metal cutting and plasma metal cutting.

Our relationships with customers are as solid as the metals we work with, forged on quality service for the highest quality parts. Glenn Metalcraft is an extension of each customer. We want to grow in the right direction, so we are careful about the type of work we accept and strive to achieve a good fit above all else.

Laser Cutting

An Intro To Plasma Cutting Metals

There are four primary states of matter: liquid, solid, gas, and plasma. Plasma is gas that has energy added to it, causing molecules to speed up and collide with greater force into each other. This electrified, ionized gas creates the power behind plasma cutting metals and technologies.

The technology for plasma cutting metals is here to make fabrication and welding more manageable and precise than ever before.

At GMI, we have been offering our customers cutting-edge technology for fabrication and metalworking since 1947. Please contact us today to discuss how our team of engineers and craftsmen can save you time and money with our superior service.

This article will look into plasma cutting metals, a widely used process in the manufacturing industry. Let’s dig into…

The World Of Plasma Cutting Metals

Plasma cutting is a fabrication process used to cut through conductive metals like stainless steel and aluminum. We find the technology in automotive repair, manufacturing, and industrial construction. But how exactly does it work?

The process begins with a gas. The type of gas you utilize depends on the material cut, as different gasses can produce different results. Compressed air, nitrogen, oxygen, and argon-hydrogen mixtures are a few examples, but manufacturers most often use compressed air.

Next, the gas is injected into the plasma chamber, where it is electrified. This process breaks the molecules of gas into atoms. Atoms are disassociated from their electrons. The process is also known as ionization. The fast-moving ionized gas produces large amounts of heat as the electrons are displaced from the atoms and then reabsorbed by other particles.

The ionized gas is funneled towards the very narrow opening, the focused nozzle, of the cutter itself. As the pressurized, ionized gas rushes past the electrode, it is sparked by an electric arc, making the plasma electrically conductive. The nozzle focuses and constricts the plasma, giving it a higher density and velocity.

The plasma exiting the cutter’s tip and the workpiece itself create an electrical circuit. The cutter and workpiece have been grounded by an earth terminal, allowing for a completed circuit to form. The process makes it safe to use for the craftsperson.

Finally, the workpiece needs to be a conductive metal for this electrical plasma to connect and melt the metal. The plasma reaches temperatures up to 30,000 degrees Celcius, which is hot enough to initiate the melting process. It can cut through metals between .5mm and 180mm.


What Metals Are Conductive?

Plasma cutting is only useful for conductive metals. That means that the material must conduct electricity, as plasma is electrical, ionized gas.

Metals that are conductive and typically cut by plasma technology include:

  • Stainless steel
  • Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Titanium
  • Iron

Thermal Separation

There are three main thermal separation methods used in metal fabrication and welding. Lasers are potent but often cost-prohibitive. . The plasma cutting technology can do more intricate cuts and is more affordable than a laser cutting system

Oxyfuel Cutting 

This thermal separation method comprises the chemical reaction between oxygen and steel, which form iron oxide. The high-powered oxygen flame reacts with steel, causing it to disintegrate (or rust) rapidly. This method is ideal for cutting thick metal.

Laser Beam Cutting

A laser generates the machine’s resonator cavity, directed towards a tip, and then cuts through or engraves metal. This method uses a focused beam of laser light to cut through metal or other materials. This focused laser beam allows for a high degree of accuracy and precision. The laser beam melts, burns, or vaporizes the materials it contacts.

Plasma Cutting

An ionized gas stream is sparked by electricity, creating a plasma tip that can melt through any conductive metal. The method developed in the 1950s manipulates materials and cannot but cut by flame. It is an ideal method for fast and efficient cutting.

Metalworkers also use plasma cutting for cutting thin or thick metals up to 180mm because it has a high degree of accuracy. The cut’s precision and the clean edge are impacted by the gas used in the plasma cutter. The versatility of use is increased by combining different gases or water injection methods to produce different finishes of cuts or kerfs. The process makes plasma cutting metals a trusted method for metalworkers.


Pros & Cons Of Plasma Cutting Metals

There are many reasons why plasma cutting materials would greatly benefit the user. It is very user-friendly, cleaner, and safer than the oxyfuel style of thermal cutters.

Pros Of Plasma Cutting Metals

  • Fast cutting speed
  • No handling of explosive gasses
  • Less clean up
  • Ideal for cutting shaped or curved metals
  • Cuts through any conductive metal
  • Precision cutting
  • No metal chips produced from cutting
  • Smaller handheld devices are easily portable
  • It cuts thicker metal than laser cutting machines

Cons Of Plasma Cutting Metals

  • High power consumption
  • Only able to make cuts up to 180mm
  • Pricier than oxyacetylene cutting systems
  • Cuts are not as refined as laser cutting methods

Plasma cutting technology continues to be developed, making this tool more accessible and portable. While it has a higher upfront cost than oxyfuel torches, it does not require the storage and replenishment of explosive gases, making up for costs over time.


This tool’s versatility makes it a favorite amongst metalworkers of all backgrounds, from artists to manufacturers. We are proud to continue growing and innovating within the OEM industry with plasma cutting metals. Contact Glenn Metalcraft, Inc about your OEM project today.


The Differences Between Welding And Metal Fabrication

From the cars we drive to the tall buildings we work at all day to the industrial plants that produce everything we use, today’s society owes its infrastructure to metal’s strength and durability. Extreme amounts of heat and pressure and skilled labor give the metal its final form. Two of the most crucial metalworking processes are welding and metal fabrication. Many people don’t understand the distinctions between these two processes. Let’s delve into some of the differences between welding and metal fabrication in today’s blog.

In the meantime, if you have a metalworking project that you need help with, contact us. Glenn Metalcraft’s customer relationships are as solid as the metals we work with, forged on quality service for the highest quality parts.

GMI is an extension of each of our customers. We strive to grow in the right direction, so we are prudent about the work we accept and aim to achieve a good fit above everything.


Welding, Defined

Welding is the process of joining pieces of metal together using fusion. These material pieces must have similar melting points for the welding to be successful at holding them together.

Welders often work with hot metal, specialty tools, and heavy machinery. Therefore, it’s imperative to be trained in proper safety guidelines and use the correct safety equipment to prevent injuring themselves or others.

Welders should always have access to:

  • an auto-darkening welding helmet
  • coveralls or a leather apron
  • flame-resistant clothing
  • hearing protection
  • heavy work boots
  • safety goggles
  • welding gloves
  • and often a method for fume extraction equipment.

Workers must understand the importance of safety equipment, meaning the shop should have safety policies defined and communicated to their welders. Both the provision of equipment and the proper training in safety expectations are necessary for a metal fabrication shop to have a thriving safety culture and environment. This safety culture is part of the shop’s overall program of quality control.

Welding involves the fusing of two (or more) pieces of metal. Numerous welding techniques exist, and each has its particular strengths and weaknesses.

Standard welding techniques include:

  • Shielded metal arc welding.
  • Gas metal arc welding.
  • Gas tungsten arc welding.
  • Flux core arc welding.

All welding techniques have the same goal: to permanently bond metal pieces together.


Metal Fabrication, Explained

Metal fabrication is the process of bringing together metal parts and assembling, or fabricating, something out of the elements. Usually, the process creates metal structures, machines, buildings, or other components.

Metal fabrication is the entire process of creating metal parts, from beginning to end. In comparison, welding is only one part of the fabrication process, which involves using heat to join two metal pieces.

Metal gives structural strength and efficiency. For instance, metal is strong and extends the life of structures. However, despite its strength, it can be manipulated to take on a new shape. Besides, due to its strength, it is incredibly cost-efficient. Metal fabricators can replicate the procedure to create a product, which brings down the cost per unit.

Also, metal is cost-efficient for the owners. Buildings or structures that utilize the fabrication process have a lower risk of fire damage, peeling paint, and even attract fewer pests. Best of all, its resistance to damage means there are lower insurance rates.

Processes Used In Metal Fabrication

  • Casting. The casting process occurs when molten metal is poured into a mold and is left to solidify into a specific form. Casting is one of the most flexible metal fabrication methods. It’s ideal for a wide range of complex shape-making. The most common materials used in casting include copper, gold, iron, magnesium, silver, and steel.
  • Cutting. Perhaps the most common metal fabrication processes involve cutting, where sheets split into halves, thirds, or smaller. Welders perform cutting on a range of machines, from lasers and plasma torches to elaborate high-tech machinery pieces.
  • Folding. One of the more complicated metal fabrication processes involves folding, where a metal surface is manipulated to shape at a certain angle.
  • Machining. When a machine removes portions from a metal piece, the process is known as machining. The method uses a lathe, which will rotate the metal piece against tools that trim corners and edges, cutting the section down to a desired shape or measurement.
  • Punching. When holes are formed in metal, the process involved consists of punching. Punching is when a metal piece is placed under a die and submitted to a drill “punch-through.” For the punched hole to be the correct size, the drill’s circumference must be accurate.
  • Shearing. For long cuts, the process is known as shearing. Shearing can be done horizontally, vertically, or by lowering the blade like a paper cutter. Shearing is used to trim down the edge of sheet metal, but the shearing process may be done anywhere on the metal piece.
  • Stamping. The metal fabrication process of stamping creates specific shapes, letters, or images within a metal piece. In effect, metal stamping is similar to a relief carving in wood or marble. Coins are a primary example of metal stamping: with words, currency amounts, and presidents’ faces stamped on each side on pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.
  • Welding. Welding is easily one of the most popular metal fabrication processes among enthusiasts, along with cutting.

Additional metal fabrication processes include broaching, grinding, honing, and milling. Depending on the needs of a particular metal fabrication application, some metal facilities even perform specially customized fabrication types.


Differences Between Welding And Metal Fabrication

Welding is a metal forming technique necessary in many metal fabrication applications to complete work on a specific part or project.

Not all metal fabrication involves welding, but good welders are essential for a successful metal fabrication business to operate to its greatest potential.

Both welding and metal fabrication uses similar processes like assembling and bending. Many welders can fabricate, and many fabricators can also weld.

Metal Fabrication Encompasses Many Different Techniques

Metal fabrication encompasses the creation of a metal product from beginning to end. It involves everything from layout and design to shaping and finishing. In contrast, welding is simply one activity during metal fabrication.

As we stated above, all welding techniques have the same goal: to permanently bond metal pieces together. Metal fabrication, by comparison, encompasses many different metalworking strategies — welding included.

Welding and Metal Fabrication Use Different Tools

There are various tools used during welding and metal fabrication. Typically, professional welders need equipment such as abrasives, chipping hammers, electrode holders, soapstone, vice grips, vices, and welding clamps.

Metal fabricators, by trade, concern themselves with metal cutting, machining, or bending.

Fabricators accomplish this task using various cutting machines. A fabricator uses a lathe to remove portions of the metal. They can also create holes through which bolts will be able to pass. Bending machines then add necessary angles to the metal piece.

Welding utilizes a diverse toolset, including welding clamps, torches, power sources, and consumable electrodes.

Welding and Metal Fabrication Require Different Skills

Metal fabrication uses various metalworking processes — welding included — to create the structures and components necessary for the modern world to exist.

Most fabrication tools have a tabletop nature. Fabricators place the metal on the relevant device and then carefully manipulate the tool to accomplish the desired task.

On the other hand, welding has a vastly different strategy. While some welders do require stationary tools, welders mainly perform the welding process itself by hand.

While some metal fabricators also possess welding ability, the welding process’s complexity often requires more specialized practitioners. Without intense practice, a welder wouldn’t be able to create strong, neat welds. When creating high-performance metal products, only a welder with experience can operate with the necessary degree of skill and precision.

Why Trust Your Metal Manufacturing To Glenn Metalcraft?

Glenn Metalcraft’s customer relationships are as solid as the metals we work with, forged on quality service for the highest quality parts.

GMI is an extension of each of our customers. We strive to grow in the right direction, so we are prudent about the work we accept and aim to achieve a good fit above everything. Contact us about your project today.

Subtractive Manufacturing

Subtractive Manufacturing : Answering Some FAQs

Simply put… Additive manufacturing adds material, and subtractive manufacturing takes it away. Both are used for prototyping and are practical for large-scale production. These processes have different fundamentals but are beneficial in conjunction with one another.

If you have questions about subtractive manufacturing options, consider Glenn Metalcraft Inc for guidance. We are experts in robotic welding, punching, automated machining, and waterjet cutting. Our engineers are available to support you through product manufacturing.

Today, we’re going to answer some FAQs about subtractive manufacturing.

What Is Subtractive Manufacturing?

A good analogy for subtractive manufacturing is a sculptor making a statue. Sculptors start with a big block of stone or wood and gradually chisel away at it. Eventually, they have a finished sculpture.


Subtractive manufacturing is an umbrella term for machining and material removal processes. The process starts with solid blocks, bars, rods of plastic, metal, or other materials.

The “subtraction” takes shape by removing material through cutting, boring, drilling, and grinding. It involves cutting, hollowing, or taking parts out of a block or sheet of a material, such as a metal.

Subtractive manufacturing is performed manually or by computer numerical control (CNC).

With CNC versions of subtractive manufacturing, a virtual model designed in CAD software serves as input for the tool. Software plans are combined with user input to generate paths to guide the cutting tool through the part geometry.

These plans tell the machine how to make necessary cuts, channels, holes, and any other features that require material removal. They take into account the speed of the cutting tool and the material’s feed rate. CNC manufacturing tools produce parts based on this computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) data, with little or no human assistance or interaction.

Subtractive manufacturing creates 3D objects by successively cutting small pieces of material away from a solid block of material.

Subtractive manufacturing helps create metal parts for prototyping, manufacturing tooling, and end-use parts. These processes are ideal for applications that require tight tolerances and geometries that are difficult to mold, cast or produce with traditional manufacturing methods.

Subtractive manufacturing offers a wide variety of material and processing methods. Softer materials are, of course, much easier to cut to their desired shape but will wear out more quickly.

What Are The “Pros” Of Subtractive Manufacturing?

CNC machining can produce more substantial parts with better tolerance and smoother finishes than additive manufacturing techniques. This is especially true of intricate features such as threaded holes. Additionally, extremely durable metal parts are produced using CNC machining.


What Are The “Cons” Of Subtractive Manufacturing?

CNC machining can require substantial set-up time. For this reason, subtractive manufacturing may be too expensive for anything but high quantities of parts.

What Is The Difference Between Additive & Subtractive Manufacturing?

Since we defined subtractive manufacturing above, let’s look quickly at additive manufacturing before comparing the two.

Additive manufacturing is synonymous with 3D printing or any process by which 3D objects; built by adding material, layer by layer. Modern 3D printing has always been beneficial for rapid prototype development, but it is starting to impact the manufacturing world.

So with additive manufacturing processes, adding material, layer by layer, and subtractive manufacturing conversely removes material to create parts. While these approaches are fundamentally different, subtractive and additive manufacturing processes are often used side-by-side due to their overlapping range of applications.

Is It Always A Choice – Subtractive vs. Additive Manufacturing?

While there are fundamental differences, subtractive and additive manufacturing are not mutually exclusive. The two are often used side-by-side or at different product development stages in manufacturing.

For example, the prototyping process often utilizes both additive and subtractive techniques.

Additive technologies are typically better suited for small pieces and highly intricate or complex designs.

In later stages of the development process, when larger batches are required, subtractive processes become more competitive.

Larger, less complicated manufacturing pieces lend themselves to subtractive manufacturing. Due to the myriad of choices in surface finishes and the speed of the process, subtractive manufacturing is often the choice for fabricating finished parts. As metal 3D printed components can be cost-prohibitive, subtractive processes are a better choice for metal parts for all but the most intricate creations.

In today’s manufacturing world, subtractive and additive processes often complement each other in tooling, jigs, fixtures, brackets, molds, and patterns. Manufacturers often opt for subtractive metal processes for higher volumes or pieces subject to more extreme mechanical strain and stress.

It is utilizing additive and subtractive manufacturing in tandem in a hybrid approach that is key. The process allows product designers and today’s manufacturers to combine the versatility and quick turnaround times of additive manufacturing with the strength of subtractively-produced parts.


What Are Some Subtractive Manufacturing Techniques?

  • CNC machining. This broad term refers to turning, drilling, boring, milling, reaming. It’s ideal for hard thermoplastics, thermoset plastics, soft metals, and hard metals (industrial machines).
  • Electrical discharge machining (EDM). This subtractive manufacturing process is ideal for hard metals.
  • Laser cutting. Laser cutting is ideal for thermoplastics, wood, acrylic, fabrics, and metal (like industrial machines).
  • Waterjet cutting. With or without abrasives, waterjets can cut almost any materials, including plastics, hard and soft metals, stone, glass, composites, and even food!

What Are Your Takeaways About Subtractive Manufacturing?

Here are the key points our FAQs went over. Subtractive manufacturing:

  • Removes materials from an object.
  • Can be done manually or by a CNC machine (computer numerical control).
  • Uses computers to aid machine processes, such as drilling or milling.
  • Is ideal for bigger parts and metal parts.
  • Can be a relatively fast set-up process.

GMI crafts the highest quality parts that others say are too complicated or too difficult. Our expert craftsmen and their equipment work within tight timelines and tolerances to meet customers’ specifications. We handle robotic welding, punching, automated machining, and waterjet cutting. Contact us for information about our subtractive manufacturing options.

Laser Cutting

Introduction to Laser Cutting for Heavy Metals

Many industries use lasers for many different purposes. Today, we’re focusing on using a laser cutting machine on heavy metals.

On metals such as aluminum plates, stainless steel, and steel, the laser cutting process is highly accurate. Laser cutting machines yield excellent cut quality, have a very small kerf width, and smaller heat-affected zones, making it possible to cut very intricate shapes and small holes.

What is “laser cutting?” Laser cutting is used for various metal and non-metal materials, including plastic, wood, gemstone, glass, and paper. The word “LASER” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

What most don’t know – or understand – is how light can cut through metal. We’ll answer a few of our most asked questions today!

Glenn Metalcraft Inc. (GMI) continually improves, adds, and upgrades its equipment, including our laser cutting machine, to expand our offerings to customers. Contact us for information about our laser cutting for heavy metals.


How Does Laser Cutting Metal Work?

Laser cutting machines are part of a non-contact, thermal-based fabrication process suitable for metal and non-metal materials.

Laser cutting employs an extremely-focused, high-powered laser beam to cut the material into intricate shapes or designs. This process is suitable for an extensive range of materials, including metals, plastics, woods, gemstones, glass, and paper. It produces intricate, precise, and complex pieces, mostly without custom-designed finishing or tooling.

Laser cutting machines can produce parts with accuracy, precision, and high-quality edge finishes. They do so (generally) with less material contamination, physical damage, and waste than with other conventional cutting processes, such as mechanical cutting.

While laser cutting machines demonstrate advantages over conventional cutting processes, some industrial or manufacturing applications can be somewhat problematic, such as cutting reflective material or any pieces requiring custom finishing or machining work.

On a CNC laser cutting machine, the laser cutting head is moved over the metal plate or piece in the desired part’s shape, thus cutting the design out of the metal. In a laser cutting machine, a capacitive height control system maintains a very accurate distance between the end of the laser’s nozzle and the metal piece.

This exact distance is important when figuring out how a laser cutting machine works. It determines where the focal point exists, relative to the metal’s surface.

A laser cut’s quality can be affected by raising or lowering the focal point from just above the metal’s surface, at the surface, or just below the surface.

With parameters controlled properly, laser cutting is a stable, reliable, and very accurate cutting process.


What Materials Can Be Cut With A Laser Cutting Machine?

A laser cutting machine is wonderful at cutting many different materials.

This list of choice materials includes:

  • Wood
  • Gemstones, such as diamonds
  • Titanium, stainless steel, steel, aluminum, and a range of others
  • Reflective metals, such as silver, copper, and aluminum
  • Glass
  • Plastic, silicon, and other non-metallic materials

Whatever the metal is you work with and whatever the industrial or manufacturing application, a laser cutting machine will be up for the task.

Can A Laser Really Cut Through Metal?

Short answer: Absolutely!

Industrial laser cutting machines can cut most metals. Laser cutters and plasma cutters are often used for this purpose.

Lasers capable of cutting through the thickest, even steel, plates are high-powered CO2 lasers. Metals such as stainless steel and aluminum can be cut with a laser when using compressed gas technology.

What Are The Benefits Of Laser Cutting?

Compared to other types of traditional industrial cutting methods, laser cutting offers several advantages.

These advantages include:

Greater precision and accuracy

Laser cutting machines cut a wide range of patterns and designs with increased precision compared to traditional metal cutting methods. Since laser cutting machines can be CNC-controlled, they can repeatedly produce complex and intricate parts to high tolerances. Thanks to this precision, slits with a width as small as 0.1mm can be achieved.

Higher quality cuts and edges

Laser cutting produces extremely high-quality cuts and edges on its pieces. These generally do not require further cleaning, treating, or finishing, decreasing the need for additional finishing processes.

Narrower kerf widths and less material distortion

The focused laser beam allows for narrower kerf widths, and the localized heating allows for minimal thermal input to the metal piece.

The smaller kerf widths minimize the amount of wasted material removed.

The low thermal input minimizes the heat-affected zones (HAZs). This, in turn, decreases the extent of thermal distortion.

The non-contact nature of laser cutting machines also decreases the risk of mechanical (or thermal) distortion, especially for thin or very flexible or thin materials, and reduces the risk of material contamination.

Less material contamination and waste

Owing to the smaller heat-affected zones, tighter tolerances, narrower kerf widths, and lesser degrees of material distortion, the operator can arrange the laser-cut pieces closely on the metal. This closeness reduces the amount of material wastage, leading to lower material costs over time.

Greater operator safety and quieter operating

Other advantages of laser cutting machines include a massively decreased risk of operator injury and much quieter operations.

The entire laser cutting process uses little to no mechanical components and occurs within its enclosure, resulting in less operator injury risk. The operator also has total control with the beam intensity, heat output, and duration when undertaking a laser cutting process, making this a highly reliable and safe operation.

As there is less noise produced by laser cutting machines, noise pollution lessens, and the overall workplace environment is also improved.


What Industries Come To GMI For Laser Cutting Heavy Metals?

Many industries take advantage of our laser cutting services for their metal projects.

These industries include:

  • Automotive (including e-mobility),
  • Aerospace,
  • Electronics,
  • Semiconductor, and
  • Medical.

Glenn Metalcraft Inc. (GMI) continually improves, adds, and upgrades its equipment, including our laser cutting machine, to expand our offerings to customers. Contact us for information about our laser cutting for heavy metals.


Introduction to Robotic Welding

From the first time a caveman made a tool, humans’ daily lives changed from manufacturing. Take a look at everything around you right now.

Production and manufacturing are responsible for all you see that does not exist in nature. From the chairs we sit in at our desks to the cars we drive, robotic welding has touched many of these items.

At GMI, we’ve invested heavily in our robotic welding automation equipment and our personnel for several years. From handling heavy parts to improving our speed and safety rates to welding as consistently and efficiently as possible, our automation team has continued to impact our customer base. Contact us for information about our robotic welding services.


Manufacturing Through The Ages

Originally, items were made by hand by individuals. Then in later centuries, by craftsmen in their small shops. Once the Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century, production moved out of those small shops and began in large factories.

When Eli Whitney invented the mechanized assembly line in 1797, manufacturing took off! Eli Whitney is the founder of the concept of interchangeable parts, which significantly increased the manufacturing process. Now, products could be manufactured in a continuous fashion versus assembled one-by-one.

One of the key processes in manufacturing metal items is welding. Welding is the process of joining two pieces of metal using heat and pressure. Welding has been around since the man’s early days. Egyptians developed pressure welding techniques as far back as 3000 B.C.

It wasn’t until the 1860s that Henry Wilde, using the electric sources available, patented the first form of electric welding.

The early- to mid-twentieth century was concerned with developing new, different, more advanced welding processes such as metal spinning. This time gave birth to arc welding, flux-cored welding, electron beam welding, and others.

While the process of welding puts humans in hazardous environments with extreme heat and toxic fumes, this application is necessary for manufacturing. For decades humans were put in danger at factories to meet manufacturing demands.

Then, in 1962, everything changed again. Enter robotics.

That year, General Motors started using the first industrial robot in their automobile factory – the ANIMATE, developed by George Devol and Joseph Engelberger. The ANIMATE performed spot welding on automobiles on the assembly line.

During the 1960s and 1970s, other robot manufacturers like FANUC, KUKA, and Motoman came on the scene. It did take some time before robotics became mainstream in the manufacturing industry.

Not until the 1980s did Robotic welding accelerate. It was then other automotive companies followed G.M.’s lead and started using robots for welding. Finally, industries began to understand the advantages of robotic welding, and the industry only grew from there.

By 2005, over 60,000 robotic welding machines were working throughout North America, mainly in the U.S. While some companies may have scoffed at the high price tag on automation, costs are decreasing as more and more companies switch to robotic welding automation.

With man’s fascination with metals and manufacturing, it is easy to see why robotic welding is the way of the future. It has offered significant advantages in the manufacturing industry for several reasons.


Advantages Of Robotic Welding

You can segment the automated welding and cutting market into very specific categories. With this, our robots have gotten faster, stronger, reliable, easier to program, and cost-effective.

Robot welders create high-quality, precise welds. They also boost productivity on an assembly line. These robots save manufacturers money through:

  • labor costs because of their speed,
  • their ability to work without breaks,
  • and their reduction in errors.

Also, they raise any shop’s safety level by getting human workers out of hazardous welding environments, away from the extreme heat and the toxic fumes.

Robotic Welding Jobs 

While welders are no longer in danger, robots still need humans to program and function. And while manual welding may become less popular, humans will always be an important part of the welding and manufacturing process.

The titles may have changed slightly, but the humans who work with welding robots have many positions to fill:

  • Assembly Robotics Engineer
  • Robotic Weld Team Member
  • Robotic Technician
  • Robotics Engineer
  • Applications Engineer
  • Applications Technician
  • …and more!


Robots Answering The Need

Manufacturing production is experiencing its sharpest increase since June 2012. As such, the awareness and usage of robotic automation have reached new heights. Manufacturers are taking advantage of the economic climate by investing in capital equipment to increase quality and productivity.

Driven by the increase in demand and labor shortages, manufacturers are looking to reduce time to market and the costs associated with production. This void, along with more affordable and capable robots, has fueled a greater level of intensity within the manufacturing sector for buying robots.

As a result, robotic automation has soared in recent years.

One of the main uses of robots in robotic welding is to increase efficiency, productivity, and, most importantly, safety in manufacturing. Welding is a tricky business because it is always associated with heat, flames, smoke, and radiation. It is a good idea to use robots for these dangerous tasks.

Robotic welding came into existence nearly a quarter of a century ago. Robotic automation is useful in various manufacturing industries. To take an example from everyday life, check with your car manufacturer to see how it was produced—likely using an assembly line technique using robots with long spider-like arms quickly moving and joining parts together to create your vehicle.

At GMI, we’ve invested heavily in our robotic welding automation equipment and our personnel for several years. From handling heavy parts to improving our speed and safety rates to welding as consistently and efficiently as possible, our automation team has continued to impact our customer base. Contact us for information about our robotic welding services.

Metal Spinning

An Introduction To Metal Spinning

Metal spinning, sometimes called spin forming, has been around for centuries and can be traced back to an Egyptian Pharaoh’s tomb. Fascinating – but what is it? What the Egyptians accomplished with manually operated lathes, the Industrial Revolution motorized and gave birth to new possibilities.

Spinning, forming, turning… all names for precision heavy gauge metal spinning, and Glenn Metalcraft is the expert. Contact us about your OEM project today.

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What Is Metal Spinning?

The metalworking process known as “metal spinning” goes by many different names, such as spin forming, metal forming, metal turning, CNC metal spinning, or just “spinning.”

Metal spinning is a process whereby a sheet of metal, cut into a flat metal disc, or blank, is formed into different symmetrical rounded shapes through spinning it around a mandrel. A mandrel is a shaft or spindle in a spinning lathe or a CNC spinning metal lathe to form the metal disc’s desired metal parts.

The most common shapes produced from the metal spinning process are:

  • Conical (cone-shaped)
  • Dished
  • Domed
  • Cylindrical (lid-shaped)
  • Flanged; flanged and flued; or flanged, dished, and flued
  • Hemispherical (half of a sphere)
  • Parabolic (bell-shaped)
  • Semi-elliptical
  • Toroidal (donut-shaped)
  • Trumpeted
  • Venturi (hourglass-shaped)

We use many different porous metals to achieve these desired shapes through metal spinning. Common materials include steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and brass. High-strength and high-temperature alloys, such as Hastelloy and titanium, are also becoming more popular, creating more durable metal parts.

Metal spinning produces parts that touch almost every part of your life. We use these in roofing, commercial lighting, satellite dishes, cooking pots and pans, and even funeral urns.

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Alternatives To Metal Spinning

Alternatives to metal spinning include hydroforming, stamping, and deep drawn stamping.

While these alternatives can form many of the same shapes as metal spinning, the processes are very different. For starters, these other options all use different methods to craft the metal into the shapes using negative shapes.

Hydroforming uses high-pressure hydraulic fluid to press the metal into a negative form to achieve the desired metal parts.

Stamping and deep drawn stamping use forced pressure to create the shapes by pushing the metal disc into a negative space.

Metal spinning is the only one that uses “positive space” to craft the shape around a piece to achieve the desired result.

Advantages Of Metal Spinning

Metal spinning is one of the most cost-effective methods of forming metal shapes for small-volume and large-volume production. This cost-effectiveness is the highest reason that it’s so popular.

What other advantages does metal spinning offer over its alternatives?

Less machining and finishing needed to finish the job

Because of the high spinning rate needed to form the desired shape, less machining is needed after the part is formed with the CNC lathe. Metal parts finish smoother, and the need for these extra finishing tools is reduced.

Quicker set-up

Your company can also get set up for metal spinning much more quickly than the alternatives you’ve already read about. Because of this, lead times are reduced.

Maximum design flexibility and more versatility for changes

If you need a design change, it can be made much more quickly with the metal spinning process. This flexibility cuts out “downtime” for your project, should a change need to be made. This is also why metal spinning is perfect for prototyping and small-volume and large-volume production runs.

More uniform finished products

Metalworkers who create parts through the metal spinning process often cite that they have much more control over the finished product, including the finished piece’s thickness.

Less waste

Finally, because of how the metal is spun, waste is reduced. This also makes metal spinning much more eco-friendly than the other methods you have read about above. In some cases, you can even use recycled materials as the “blanks” for your metal parts.

Higher quality parts

Because of the process of metal spinning, parts are formed without any seams. This seamlessness means that these parts are less likely to “break apart” under high-stress conditions.

What Industries Benefit From Your Metal Spinning Process?

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Metal spinning parts touch almost every industry in the world.

Common industries, though, include:

  • Aeronautics and Aerospace
  • Agricultural & Farming Equipment
  • Appliances & Appliance Manufacturing
  • Architectural, Building, & Construction
  • Automotive
  • Bulk Solid Handling & Supply Chain Logistics
  • Chemical Processing
  • Commercial Lighting
  • Commercial Vehicles
  • Communications
  • Electrical
  • Energy
  • Food Processing
  • Food Service
  • HVAC, Air Filtration, & Air Handling
  • Industrial Machinery
  • Lighting
  • Marine
  • Material Handling
  • Medical
  • Pollution Control
  • Railroad
  • Recreational equipment
  • Refrigeration
  • Retail Fixtures
  • Roofing
  • Safety Products
  • Sanitation
  • Transportation
  • Welding

No matter what industry you are in, however, Glenn Metalcraft is the expert when it comes to precision heavy gauge metal spinning. Contact us about your OEM project today. We answer inquiries for RFPs/RFQs within 48 hours or 2 business days.